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Switchbot Lock Review: Renter- and Budget-Friendly!

Rating: 8/10 ?
  • 1 - Absolute Hot Garbage
  • 2 - Sorta Lukewarm Garbage
  • 3 - Strongly Flawed Design
  • 4 - Some Pros, Lots Of Cons
  • 5 - Acceptably Imperfect
  • 6 - Good Enough to Buy On Sale
  • 7 - Great, But Not Best-In-Class
  • 8 - Fantastic, with Some Footnotes
  • 9 - Shut Up And Take My Money
  • 10 - Absolute Design Nirvana
Price: $100
closeup of the switchbot lock installed over a white apartment door
Sarah Chaney / Review Geek

I’ve walked up to my apartment door countless times with too many bags of groceries or other stuff piled up in my arms. And every time I do this, I find myself wishing my door could just open itself. So I was super excited to try out the SwitchBot Lock system and have it exceed my expectations!

Compared to other leading smart locks on the market, like options from Google or August, SwitchBot is a much more affordable brand. The SwitchBot Lock is $99.99, while smart locks from Google and August cost over $200. That said, most people likely wouldn’t purchase only the SwitchBot Lock and instead would add a Keypad ($29.99), Keypad Touch ($59.99), or Hub Mini ($49.99) to increase the lock’s functionality. But even if you spring for the Lock, Keypad, and Hub Mini, the total price is still less than that of many other smart locks. (And bundling devices gives you a discount, too!)

Knowing that this system was an affordable smart lock option, I was skeptical of how well it would work. While certain physical parts feel like cheap plastic, the overall functionality of the SwitchBot Lock system is spot on. I didn’t have any issues using the system and found a lot of things to love about it.

Here's What We Like

  • Affordable
  • Minimally invasive
  • Hands-free door opening!
  • Tons of SwitchBot products to build your smart home

And What We Don't

  • Not a super attractive design
  • Likely need to purchase a Keypad and/or Hub Mini as well

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Setup and Installation: Incredibly Simple

In short, there’s nothing unique about the SwitchBot Lock’s installation process. Everything was clearly labeled and easy to understand. There were a few steps I had to reread for clarification and firmware upgrades I had to wait a few minutes for, but I think that’s all pretty standard when installing any new tech.

The SwitchBot Lock package comes with the main unit, three thumb turn adapters in different sizes, a magnet, extra double-sided tape, a wet wipe, a screwdriver, and extra screws. It also includes a SwitchBot Tag and memo stickers for the Tag, but you don’t need these to install the device. For reference, a SwitchBot Tag is a small, circular NFC sticker that lets you create custom commands or actions you can enable by tapping your phone to the sticker.

If the term “thumb turn adapter” sounds like gibberish to you, here’s a brief explainer. When you get home and lock your door, the part you turn is the thumb turn (it’s sometimes also referred to as a turnkey). The thumb turn adapter in the SwitchBot Lock package is what goes over your thumb turn and then controls the locking mechanism. I ended up using the medium-sized thumb turn adapter, which is what I think most people would end up using, but you can double-check your lock’s compatibility and measurements through SwitchBot’s website before purchasing.

It was easy to follow the manual’s instructions and position my SwitchBot Lock perfectly. The only confusion I ran into was with the step that read “Adjust the height of SwitchBot Lock.” When it says “height,” I think it actually means depth. There’s an adjustable stand on the back of the unit that’s fixed with screws. When you unscrew these four tiny screws, you can move the stand so that your SwitchBot Lock unit is closer to or further from the door, not higher or lower than your thumb turn.

The double-sided adhesive is strong, and even stayed up with no issues after I had to reposition it after I initially stuck it to my door. It hasn’t fallen down at all, and I think if you follow all the recommendations from SwitchBot—like wiping your surface of dust and dirt and estimating placement before revealing the sticky tape—you shouldn’t have any issues with it falling down. After I placed the unit where I wanted it on my door, I had to apply firm pressure for about two minutes.

switchbot lock out of the package, with all its contents laid out on a wooden table
Sarah Chaney / Review Geek

Once I had the SwitchBot Lock installed, I opened up the app and paired the device to the app. The calibration process, just like the installation process, was easy. You just have to follow the steps and you’re golden. With the SwitchBot app (Android/iOS) open, these are the calibration steps:

  • Manually lock your door and press Next
  • Manually unlock your door and press Next
  • Open your door, manually lock it, slightly close your door with a small gap in between the door and the frame, and press Next
  • Tap the screen to have SwitchBot unlock your door and press Next
  • Close your door, have SwitchBot lock it, and press Next

At this point in the process, I was able to lock and unlock the front door with a quick tap within the open SwitchBot app. But because I wanted to unlock the door with my fingerprint and Google Assistant, I still needed to set up the Keypad Touch and the Hub Mini.

switchbot lock, touch keypad, and hub mini on a wooden table
Sarah Chaney / Review Geek

When setting up the Keypad Touch, the only part that was difficult was getting the plastic back off to insert the batteries. I’m not even sure if it’s possible to get the back off with your fingers, but I gave up and used the included tool that looked like a guitar pick. After a few tries, the back popped off, and I put in the two 3V batteries SwitchBot included.

Everything else was easy peasy. Like the SwitchBot Lock, I had to find a smooth surface, wipe it down with the included alcohol wipe, and press it firmly for two minutes after finding the perfect position. Because my apartment complex has textured hallways, I chose to stick the Keypad Touch to my door frame outside. This also doubled as a bit of extra security because hopefully, people won’t know it’s there unless they’re really looking.

You can also mount it with screws, making it much more difficult to remove, but I went the sticky tape route because I’m renting. If it’s removed, you’ll get a push notification from the app to let you know. It also beeps really loudly if it’s taken off the mount, so you’d likely hear it from inside your apartment. And honestly, as someone just passing by the keypad, the fingerprint sensor looks somewhat like a camera, so that might deter people as well.

The SwitchBot Hub Mini was, by far, the easiest device to set up. There are three pieces included: the Hub Mini, a USB cable, and a piece of double-sided 3M sticky tape. To set it up, you long press a button on top of the Hub Mini, pair it with the SwitchBot app, connect to a 2.4GHz Wi-Fi band, and you’re good to go. I couldn’t see anything in the manual that indicated it wasn’t compatible with a 5GHz band, but a quick troubleshooting search led me to an article that stated the SwitchBot Hub Mini only supports 2.4GHz bands.

Then, if you’re using Google Assistant, you have to go to your Google Home app (Android/iOS), open your Assistant Settings, and add your SwitchBot device. Before you can test out a voice command of “Hey, Google—unlock the front door,” you have to set a PIN within the SwitchBot app. When you give Google Assistant a command for your front door, it’ll ask for your PIN before carrying out the action. Since you do have to speak your PIN out loud, you might want to unlock the door from your car or only use voice commands to lock the door once you’re inside your home.

There Are a Lot of Add-Ons For Full Functionality

switchbot ecosystem examples with multiple different devices
Sarah Chaney / Review Geek 

Although you can use the SwitchBot lock by itself, you probably won’t. After all, if a smart lock is meant to alleviate the hassle of having to find and pull out your keys, why would you want to pay $100 just to find and open up your phone instead?

Your two choices for an extra device include a Keypad and the Hub Mini, or you could spring for both. The biggest question you have to answer is: Do I want to use voice commands or a physical keypad to open the door? There are pros and cons to each, so it really just comes down to personal preference.

If you think you want to go for a keypad, there’s the traditional Keypad or the Keypad Touch, which includes a fingerprint scanner. There’s a $30 difference between the two, and personally, I think it’s worth it to splurge on the Keypad Touch for the extra convenience.

The Hub Mini works with Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Siri, HomePod, and the IFTTT app. In addition to giving voice commands to lock and unlock your front door, SwitchBot’s Hub Mini also opens up a whole world of possibilities with all of SwitchBot’s other compatible products, like curtains, cameras, thermostats, and more. The Hub Mini is necessary to create a full smart home ecosystem with SwitchBot devices.

The App Experience: Intuitive and Basic

In the SwitchBot Lock’s setup manual, you’re instructed to download the app and create an account. Once you’ve got your account ready to go, pairing a new device is simple. You tap a plus sign icon in the top right corner and follow the app’s guidance from there.

The overall app design and functions are incredibly basic, but that’s kind of to be expected. If you have a Switchbot Keypad, you can use the app to set up a temporary passcode with certain date and time parameters for visiting family or a maintenance worker. You can also create a one-time passcode if that fits your situation more.

Then, with the Switchbot Lock itself, you can personalize your push notifications and receive a message when the door is locked/unlocked manually, locked/unlocked by a specified user in your account, or when the door is ajar or left unlocked for a specific amount of time. You can even set up an auto-lock feature for your door to lock itself automatically after being closed for a specified amount of time.

From the app, you can lock and unlock your front door with a simple tap. You can also view a log to see what time your door was unlocked or locked, as well as how it was unlocked or locked. The app differentiates between a manual lock, a Keypad lock, a SwitchBot app lock, and so on. If you have certain people’s fingerprints or custom passcodes labeled with their names, you can tell exactly who unlocked or locked the door in the app’s log.

If you buy the Hub Mini, you can enable Scenes through the SwitchBot app, which allows you to execute a custom action or condition. So if you wanted your door to automatically lock itself when it detected the door was closed, you could create this custom command and never have to worry whether you forgot to lock the door when you left for work. After pairing your SwitchBot products with Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, etc. (and purchasing the Hub Mini), you can incorporate this automatic locking feature into daily smart routines.

Ease of Use: Works Well With the App, Keypad, and Google Assistant

closeup of the switchbot lock and magnetic sensor installed on apartment door and frame
Sarah Chaney / Review Geek

Overall, using the SwitchBot Lock was a breeze, no matter how I chose to open my front door. When using the app to lock or unlock the door, the response time was immediate, except for when I was testing it off Wi-Fi to see if it would work from the parking lot. That said, it wasn’t my preference, and I didn’t use the app to lock/unlock after the initial setup process.

Using the Keypad Touch is my preferred way of locking and unlocking the door from the outside. When I left the house, all I had to do was press the lock button on the keypad. And when I got home, I pressed my thumb to the fingerprint sensor and was in my apartment within a few seconds. It’s nice having the fingerprint sensor for frequent users, like my husband and me, but also having a code for friends and family to use when visiting.

closeup of the switchbot touch keypad installed on external door frame
Sarah Chaney / Review Geek

While using voice commands through Google Assistant is cool, it’s not my go-to choice. It just takes longer than using the keypad or the fingerprint sensor. You have to say “Hey, Google,” give your command, wait for it to ask you for your PIN, say your PIN, and then it’ll finally unlock the door. If I was inside my apartment and knew a friend was coming over, I might opt for the voice command approach since I could stay seated on the couch and no one else could hear me speak my PIN.

Conclusion: An Excellent Smart Lock, Especially For Apartment Dwellers

Overall, I love the SwitchBot Lock paired with the Keypad Touch. If I’m coming home with a trunk full of groceries, it’s nice to know that I can load up my arms with way too many bags and only have to lift my thumb to the fingerprint scanner to open the door. Plus, if someone’s staying with you for a short time or you have friends coming over, you won’t have to give them a key—you can just give them their own custom keypad code!

While I think anyone could benefit from using the SwitchBot Lock, it’s best for those who rent, want to save some money, or typically avoid breaking out the tools to replace hardware. Whether you rent an apartment or a house, all of the SwitchBot devices used in this system can be adhered to your wall or door with strong double-sided tape. And if you’re worried about peeling the paint when you move to your next place, you could just use Command strips instead. For those who own their home, the SwitchBot is still a great smart lock choice if you’re after something reliable, easy to use, and budget-friendly.

Rating: 8/10
Price: $100

Here’s What We Like

  • Affordable
  • Minimally invasive
  • Hands-free door opening!
  • Tons of SwitchBot products to build your smart home

And What We Don't

  • Not a super attractive design
  • Likely need to purchase a Keypad and/or Hub Mini as well

Sarah Chaney Sarah Chaney
Sarah Chaney is a professional freelance writer for Review Geek, Android Authority, MakeUseOf, and other great websites. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English with a Creative Writing concentration. Her degree, paired with her almost two years of professionally writing for websites, helps her write content that is engaging, yet informative. She enjoys covering anything Android, video game, or tech related. Read Full Bio »